Skip to main content

Twenty years ago, I visited New York City for the first time. Among all the must-see tourist attractions, my to-do list included a visit to Abercrombie & Fitch’s flagship on 5th Avenue. At the time, this brand was extremely popular in my home country of France; all the cool guys were wearing the label.

From the moment I stepped into the store, the loud music, dim lighting, attractive staff and excessive scent instantly energized me. This space blew my mind. I felt good and dropped more than a few dollars during my visit. Mission accomplished for them—I was hooked.

It’s no surprise. The truth is, every Abercrombie and Fitch store in the world is designed to trigger a “sensory overload” experience for anyone physically interacting with their universe.

Their stores are a perfect example of what successful sensory marketing aims to do: it creates an emotional association with a specific product or brand using our five senses, ensuring it’s remembered, noticed, and appreciated.

Watch this example of sensory marketing from The Lab Concept. In it, customers are invited to experience the brand through touch, taste, and sound. Based on their selections, invitees received a personalized luxury holiday package.

Satisfy the Subconscious

Our senses are receptors that transmit information to our brain. They give us access to the world that surrounds us. The combination of our senses, paired with preexisting knowledge, memories, and preferences helps us interpret our experiences.

95 percent of our purchase decision-making takes place in the subconscious mind.1

1Gerald Zaltman ”How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market” 

Studies show that sensory stimuli influence environments, improve the shopping experience, and change the nature of behavior in ways beyond our consciousness. When used appropriately, sensory tools can impact decision-making and shoppers’ attitudes.

Sensory marketing is leveraged across industries, especially service-oriented ones like restaurants, hotels, and department stores. Examples of this kind of marketing include brand colors, in-store playlists, enticing scents, snack samplings, packaging and presentation, and even the feel of fabric.

Stimulate the Senses

These days, the most successful companies, like Apple, Starbucks, and Singapore airlines, know that customers are driven by experience and not just product features. That’s why they’re constantly interacting with their target audiences through clever sensory marketing and branding tools to boost loyalty and improve sales.

Every touchpoint, from a website to a physical store, provides an opportunity to share a visual, verbal, or sensory message. With 2 in 5 customers reportedly feeling overwhelmed by the volume of messages they receive, improving sensory branding channels can help cut through the noise.

As technology continues to evolve, businesses will uncover new ways to embrace the power of sensory branding.

Olivier Jamin Changeart

Olivier Jamin Changeart

Founder & President, OJC, Artisan of Sound